The Boys’ The Deep is an awful person who’s done terrible things during his time as a hero. Yet, he’s also a victim stuck in his own cycle of abuse.
The following contains spoilers for The Boys Season 3, streaming on Prime Video.
The Boys shows the dark side of heroes and the toll it takes on society. The Deep is their parody of Aquaman, and he is a terrible person. He committed a heinous crime against Starlight and continues to re-traumatize her. He was barely punished due to his fame, and now all the heroes are acting like it never happened. Yet, it seems The Deep is stuck in his own cycle of abuse. While he victimized Starlight, he has also become a victim himself. In his desperation for fame and power, he is suffering from verbal and emotional abuse on a daily basis.
The Boys is set in a world where superheroes are owned by Vought International. Instead of being virtuous and pure, the “heroes” are terrible, power-hungry individuals who care very little for the people they’re meant to protect. The Deep is no different, and while he began as a disgusting character, his story arc is one of the more fascinating ones. Whether he realizes it or not, he is a victim of abuse. This doesn’t pardon his actions towards Starlight, and it doesn’t mean that he deserves the glory of being a hero again. Yet, it does cause the audience to have small moments of sympathy for this character, which helps to improve his story.
In Season 1 of The Boys, The Deep was unforgivable. Being removed from The Seven was an insufficient punishment, and it was easy for the audience to relish in his misery. Then, as the show continued, it quickly became apparent that The Deep was stuck in various cycles of abuse. At first, he was abusing himself. He was depressed and disgusted with what had become of him. He then joined a cult, and they continued to abuse him. They took advantage of his desires while abusing him emotionally and financially. Yet, the worst abuse comes from two people: his wife and Homelander.
The Deep’s wife, Cassandra, doesn’t care at all about him. She hides her abuse of him behind lies of support and love. She was assigned to him by the cult, The Church of the Collective, and stayed with him when he left them behind. In Season 3, she’s been pushing him to rejoin The Seven, encouraging him to do whatever Homelander demands of him, no matter how cruel or demeaning. Cassandra doesn’t care for The Deep; she cares only for the status she gains by being with him. She encouraged him to eat Timothy, one of his aquatic friends. She saw that he didn’t want to, yet she goaded him into it. She made him stand up for racist ideology, despite him clearly knowing it was wrong. She continues to victimize him through emotional manipulation.
Homelander is just as cruel and evil. The Deep is nothing to him, no more than a tool for him to use when it suits him. He treats him as a disposable object. Even the fact that The Deep received top billing on a talk show caused him to lash out until The Deep grovelled and surrendered the slot to Homelander. The leader of The Seven has systematically chipped away at The Deep’s self-esteem, making him believe that he is nothing. This has helped Homelander control and torment him for years. The Deep has been so abused by Homelander, that it’s unclear if he even realizes how far under Homelander’s thumb he’s become. He seeks constant validation because he thinks that he is worthless and can never be a good person.
The Deep may be a bad person because he was never given the chance to be a good one. When The Boys started, it was clear that the show was establishing a universe that had been around for a while. Homelander and Vought’s abuse of The Deep may have been going on for a long time. He may have started as a good person, looking to do heroic deeds, but years of belittlement and corporate greed turned him cynical and dark. Vought may have abused his good nature and turned him into the power-hungry person that is present on the show. Occasionally, glimpses of The Deep’s true nature come through. He really didn’t want to eat Timothy; the pain was clear on his face. It was a horrifying scene to witness, and it must have deeply traumatized him.
The Deep seems to continually be involved with people or organizations looking to use him. He went from Vought and Homelander, to The Church of the Collective, to Cassandra, and now back to Vought, Homelander and Cassandra. The Deep enters these cycles with no way of escape. He is beaten down more and more, and every time he tries to raise himself up, the cycle begins anew. No one cares what he wants or what he needs; they’re only looking to see what they can gain from their relationship with him. His self-esteem is destroyed, as is his good nature. While The Deep may be sorry for what he has done, because of the people who have trapped him in their cycles, it makes it hard to see past his corporate exterior.
The Boys brings the reality of superheroes home in a big way. It shows that no matter how powerful or perfect a person may seem, everyone is broken. Homelander is broken and wants to hurt everyone; Butcher is broken and only sees the evil inside people; and The Deep is absolutely shattered. He has lost faith in himself, in heroes and in humanity. Each person he was close to has betrayed him and used him for their own purposes. Organizations that were supposed to help him continued to harm him. The Deep is stuck in a constant cycle of abuse, and it makes his story both devastating and extremely compelling.
New episodes of The Boys stream every Friday on Prime Video.
Do you have questions about Batman? Do you want to have philosophical debates about Star Wars? Do you enjoy a constant stream of pop culture media? If the answer is yes to any of that I’m your guy! I’m an avid comic reader/collector and have been writing for CBR for over a year! Follow me on Twitter @JamieParker03